BLUE JACKETS (11-19-3) at COYOTES (14-14-2)
TV: FS-O, FS-A
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Hoping to send a message to the slumping Columbus Blue Jackets, coach John Tortorella will scratch center Ryan Johansen against the Arizona Coyotes on Thursday.
"He's an important guy in our organization," Tortorella said. "This is a reset for him in understanding what we're looking for, not just in the points but in the play.
"You can't look at it as a punishment. It's part of the process for him."
Johansen, whose 22 points are second on the Blue Jackets, sat the entire third period of a 5-1 loss against the Dallas Stars on Monday and played 11:03, the least ice time he's had since he was a rookie in 2012-13.
Defenseman Jack Johnson will miss the game with an upper-body injury, the Columbus Dispatch reported. The Blue Jackets have lost five straight games and have one win in the first nine games of December (1-5-3).
Tortorella has sat other top players since coming to Columbus. He benched defenseman Fedor Tyutin for two games in October and leading scorer Scott Hartnell in early December.
Johansen had a goal and an assist in a 5-2 win against Arizona on Nov. 14 in Columbus.
Forward Jared Boll will take Johansen's place in the lineup and play for the first time since Nov. 17.
The Coyotes will be missing their top center as well. Arizona coach Dave Tippett said Martin Hanzal will miss his fourth straight game with a lower-body injury. Hanzal was able to take part in practice Wednesday but is still a few days away from playing.
Each team is shorthanded on defense.
The Coyotes will play without defenseman Zbynek Michalek, who misses a second straight game with a lower-body injury. Stefan Elliott will play for Arizona.
"It's an injury that has been lingering and he wants to get a handle on it," Tippett said of Michalek. "When he plays, he plays really hard, and we want to make sure this doesn't turn into a long-term thing for him."
Arizona was also without rookie forward Anthony Duclair, a late scratch due to illness. John Scott took his place.
Columbus will be missing defenseman David Savard, who is bothered by a lower-body injury. Dalton Prout steps into the lineup with Kevin Connauton moving up into Savard's spot.
Each team is in the midst of a long stretch without its starting goalie.
Blue Jackets goalie Curtis McElhinney will start with Sergei Bobrovsky sidelined by a groin injury.
Anders Lindback is now the No. 1 goalie for Arizona after Mike Smith had abdominal surgery earlier this week that will sideline him 8-10 weeks. Lindback played well in a 2-1 overtime win against the Minnesota Wild on Dec. 11, then took a backward step in a 5-4 overtime loss to the Carolina Hurricanes the next day.
"He practices hard, he's played well and he's a real good teammate," Tippett said. "With that being said, you have to get in there and get the results and that's what we're looking for. He's done it in the past. If you look at his numbers from last year (with the Buffalo Sabres), when he went on a run he played very well. That's what we're expecting.
"He's been around the League for a long time and he understands what this role is all about."
Here are the projected lineups:
Scott Hartnell – Alexander Wennberg – Brandon Saad
Matt Calvert – Brandon Dubinsky – Cam Atkinson
Nick Foligno - Boone Jenner - David Clarkson
Gregory Campbell – William Karlsson - Jared Boll
Kevin Connauton - Andrew Bodnarchuk
Justin Falk - Ryan Murray
Fedor Tyutin – Dalton Prout
Injured: Sergei Bobrovsky (lower body), Rene Bourque (upper body), Cody Goloubef (jaw), Markus Hannikainen (shoulder), David Savard (lower body), Jack Johnson (upper body)
Scratched: Ryan Johansen
Tobias Rieder - Antoine Vermette - Mikkel Boedker
Max Domi – Viktor Tikhonov - Steve Downie
Jordan Martinook - Brad Richardson – Shane Doan
Kyle Chipchura - Boyd Gordon – John Scott
Oliver Ekman-Larsson - Michael Stone
Klas Dahlbeck - Stefan Elliott
Nicklas Grossmann - Connor Murphy
Injured: Martin Hanzal (lower body), Zbynek Michalek (lower body), Mike Smith (abdominal surgery), Joe Vitale (fractured orbital bone); Anthony Duclair (illness)
Status report: The Coyotes sent forward Craig Cunningham to Springfield of the American Hockey League. … Falk will take the place of Johnson in the Blue Jackets lineup. Bobrovsky skated after the rest of the Blue Jackets on Thursday and could be ahead of schedule. He was expected to miss three weeks.
Who's hot: Domi leads the Coyotes in home scoring with 11 points (three goals) in 12 games. … The Coyotes are 5-0-1 in the past six home games, their longest point streak since Oct. 3- Nov. 21, 2013 (11 straight games).